Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The winter that is consistently making me lose my shit (a reflection on routine)

I had a revelation recently about routine that has given me insight into my personality and how I mother my children.

Even as a child, I hated days that didn't follow routine.  Major holidays were especially awful.  I'm sure I liked summer, but I was always more than ready to get back to school in August.

When I was teaching, I realized that what I especially liked about my profession was that there was the overall structure of the day, the classes and their times, but within that structure was lots of newness.  Different kids, different ways of teaching them, different books.  It was "structured chaos," and I very much enjoyed it.

What I have recently recognized about myself is that even though I am very motivated and organized and routine-oriented, I am unable to CREATE my own routine.  I must have routine thrust upon me from the outside.  Once I have this, I am able to function and excel.  Without it, I don't cope well.

After N was born, my mother suggested to me that I have a day for different chores.  Monday would be vacuum day, Tuesday would be laundry day, and so on.  But not only did this not sound appealing, I instinctively knew I could never hold to that structure because it was something I would have to do myself.  I clean when stuff is really funky dirty or when my children are getting on my nerves.

When my children were potty-training, I never did charts or M&Ms or anything like that because I cannot keep up with it.  It seems another case of me having to rely on myself to create what is essentially an arbitrary routine.

My discipline follows this similar route.  I don't do behavior charts and "good deed" jars and all that.  My discipline is "In public, you don't act like a bratty ass-hat or we leave."  At home, you don't hit or kick me, you talk respectfully or I lock you in your room (or hide in my own room until you get your shit together).  This loosey-goosey discipline at home may be part of the reason G has trouble with me at home and not school where there is more.....ahem, structure.

I'd be willing to suggest that this whole routine thing within my personality plays a role in how I act and feel about religion, authority, and politics.

Maybe this is why I've never been a huge fan of beach vacations where endless days are spent just being on the beach and pool.  The only reason I think I am better able to handle the prospect of beach "lazy butt" vacations is because at least 2 days I plan some kind of activity that sorta buttresses me.

I think when my kids were babies, prior to school, the routine of my day was based around naps.  Once they started school, I was able to slide back into that comfort of school providing the basic structure of the day.

For all of these reasons, snow days are absolutely abysmal for me, and this year my kids have had 5 snow/cold days off from school in about 6 weeks time, plus 2 weeks of winter break and Martin Luther King holiday.

Not only does the specific snow day deprive me of structure, but the continuing snow days make it difficult to maintain the routine of the routine.  You can't rely on a routine if the weather is constantly upending your expectations of what the routine should be.  My kids, especially G, who takes after me in all the wrong ways, have been bucking me and the unfairness of life whenever they do have to go back to the routine of school, since in all truth it hasn't been routine at all this winter.

I don't do well with the lack of routine of summer, either, but in summer I am able to structure our activities, give us a general outline of a routine to follow.  We join the pool and go there a few days a week.  Every evening we play outside once the day cools off.  Plus, summer doesn't sneak up on me.  I know the day it will start and end.  There is an order on which I can rely.

Snow days....not so much.  It is freezing outside, nothing is open, the roads are terrible, and there is no expectation of what the following day will bring.  Delay?  No school?  School is on?

I know I'm not the only mom in the world who abhors snow days, but it helps me to understand that a big part of my snow day despising has nothing to do with my children and everything to do with simply who I am and have always been. 

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